Interlude: Cleveland House
“Nikolas Bernard Wood, I am afraid there are no yummy nummies in this chest.” Xander smiled down at the rooting two week old, playing gently with the tuft of fuzzy black hair that stood straight up from the sleepy infant's head. Xander was leaning back in a recliner, a book perched on his lap and the tiny boy nuzzling at his chest. “You will learn that man boobies are singularly useless, unlike the lovely milk filled pillows of women's breasts – which are God's great gift to men and baby boys. And your mother, my little boy, has a pair of the most luscious boobies I have ever had the privilege of playing with – once.” Xander Harris looked at his companion in the library, who was snickering quietly while picking at guitar strings. “Are you disagreeing with me, Oz, my man?”
“Uh, no. But I have never played with Faith's boobies.”
“Better keep it that way, husband of mine,” the teasing voice floated into the library of Cleveland House from the adjacent room.
“Mags! Bearer of lovely pain medicines and speaking of lovely boobies.” Xander smiled up from his seat, beaming at the elderly, yet still stunningly beautiful, nurse and slayer, who handed him a tiny paper cup with pills and a glass of water.
“They're prosthetic,” she replied dryly. “Courtesy of a double mastectomy at fifty-eight. They're a good approximation of the size and shape of the originals, however.”
“All lady boobies are good boobies. All the shapes and sizes.” Xander nodded sagely, a goofy grin on his face as he downed the drugs. “Right, Oz?”
“I was planning to have re-constructive surgery when I met up with the good doctor and he reminded me that my breasts were never considered my greatest asset.”
“And a lovely asset it is, my dear Mags. Well formed, perfectly proportioned.” The elder slayer turned around and wiggled her backside at him teasingly as Xander began to warble:
Wake up Maggie, I think I've got something to say to you
It's late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused, but I feel I'm being used
Oz strummed along on his guitar, a mischievous twinkle in his eye, as he hummed along with Xander. The nurse shook her head with amused disgust. “That song is – after – my time. And it wasn't my derrière that I was known for either.”
Oh Maggie, I couldn't have tried any more
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
“Blasphemer! Rod Stewart is after no one's time.” Xander continued his song. Dawn stepped into the room and joined in, singing a harmony line. Nikolas attempted to lift his head from Xander's chest, but failed and proceeded to drool onto the threadbare Hawaiian shirt. Dawn lifted the sneezing babe, who proceeded to curl into a reflexive ball and nuzzle into Dawn's chest. “See, lady boobies are vastly better, right?” The infant let out a mewling newborn wail.
“Poor thing, missing your Mama, are you?” Dawn tutted.
“So what was your greatest asset, lovely woman? Your glorious tresses? Your long, slender legs? The graceful swan-like neck?”
“They called me Hot Lips.” Margaret slid onto a rolling stool and slid up to the recliner where Xander was seated, moving the book off his lap. “And that is an asset that only improves with age and practice, my dear.” Xander spluttered a bit as Margaret unbuttoned his shirt, revealing several layers of gauze, speckled with blood. “I'll send for a rolling bed-table from the infirmary. You can't have these heavy books on your wound. It's not good for your healing, and who knows what blood can do to some of these mystical tomes.” When she saw that Xander was properly chastened, she gave a satisfied nod.
The nurse examined the younger man, peeling back the dressing on his chest. “I'm going to have to change this.” She made an exasperated face at him. “Just because Spike calls you the slayer's white knight doesn't mean you have to throw yourself in front of every damn demon that goes after a slayer.”
“And how is Christie doing?” Xander asked pointedly.
“She's fine, fine enough. It'll be a few more days before Hawkeye lets her out of the infirmary.” Margaret looked over the wound. “I'm going to put more ointment on it. You have got to hold still, you'll pull the stitches.”
“You are still operating under the false assumption that since I'm not a slayer I'm not every bit as trapped by the three weavers as you are.”
“Well, you are not a slayer. And you are not invincible.” Margaret pointed out. “You are a volunteer, not draftee. And you are not required to put yourself at risk. Stay behind the front lines. I'd think you'd learned your lesson when you did that.” She indicated the patch over Xander's eye. “Oz, at least, knows better.”
“Ooh. Now she's done stepped in it.” Faith appeared at the door. “Boytoy. Good to see you sitting up.” Faith rubbed her son's head where Nikolas was still attempting fruitlessly to latch onto Dawn's chest. “Pass over the drugs, lover.” Xander grumbled and handed over the pills he'd palmed instead of taking. “Little Bit?”
“Antibiotic and anti-nausea drug. And acetaminophen.” Dawn looked over the drugs, giving Margaret a hard look when she appeared to protest. “There's nothing narcotic in here, Xander. We already told Dr. Pierce how you feel about them. Take the damn pills.”
“Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Xander grumbled, but swallowed the pills under Dawn and Faith's watchful eyes. “I don't like feeling loopy. I need my wits about me to track down this demon. And we've got five more families coming in today.” Xander pointed to the book on the table. “No one else here can read Thai. And I don't want to get addicted.”
“You're in pain, I don't want you moving around making it worse trying to get comfortable. I know it's difficult.” Margaret crossed her hands over her chest, scowling at him. “If you can hold still long enough stop bleeding through the bandages, I'll have Hawkeye start weaning you off the codeine. You've been palming the pills since we let you out last night, haven't you?”
Dawn fake coughed, “longer, cough, cough,” into her hand.
“Dawnie!” Xander whined.
“Xander Harris, your lovely wife would tan my hide – and yours – if you gave yourself a drug-resistant infection from palming your antibiotics. Lord only knows what hideous crap was on that claw.” At Xander's mutinous glare, Margaret glared right back. “Fine, I'll bring the big needles next time, and you can flash me that cute 'asset' of yours.”
Faith took Nikolas from Dawn, seating herself on a love seat across the table from Oz and Xander, and lifted her shirt to feed the boy. Soon contented gurgles and gulping sounds emerged from the infant. Oz set his guitar to one side and opened his arms. Dawn quickly slipped into his lap and received a kiss. “You know, you should cut X some slack, Maggie.” Margaret started to protest, but Faith held up a hand. “He's not a volunteer – he's got more prophecies to his name than I do, or Buffy for that matter. The slayer's white knight isn't just Spike mouthing off – well, Spike is always mouthing off – it's who X is. That entire bookcase over there is about Boytoy – he's got more titles than the queen of England. The Slayer's White Knight is only the beginning.”
“Slayer's Heart. Angel's bane,” Dawn chimed in.
Xander chuckled, receiving a annoyed poke from the carefully working nurse. “Didn't know that. I'm liking that one.”
“The One Who Sees.” Faith reminded him. Xander grimaced. “Loki's arrow. Prophecy breaker.”
“Demon magnet. Dracula's manservant.” Dawn giggled. “Drusilla's kitten.”
Xander slapped his head. “Hey, I'd managed to forget that one.”
“It's coming around again,” Dawn informed him.
“Stop wiggling.” Margaret gave Xander a hard poke well away from his injury.
“Keeper of the Key.”
“Hyena Queen. Primal of Primals.” Oz pointed out. “Alpha of Alphas.”
“Zeppo.” Xander retorted irritably.
“There's actually some interesting Zeppo prophecies. They are tricky, though, because 'Zeppo' doesn't really translate. They are on that shelf.” Dawn pointed to the next bookcase over from the 'White Knight' bookcase. “Most of them involve the Red Witch or Weeping Tree, so they are on Willow's shelf.”
“Anyanka's Beloved,” a soft voice came from the doorway. “Mate of the Sorceress Slayer.” A petite woman walked into the library, holding the hand of a five year old girl. “Miriam's Blessing.” The dark-eyed girl walked around Xander's recliner and climbed up carefully, snuggling into his uninjured side. Xander stroked the girl's head, playing with the dark braids that clinked quietly with pink and white beads. “Hello, all.” Xander's wife was greeted with enthusiastic smiles and waves all around, and a 'Hi, Tallyn' from Dawn. The blond haired beauty walked up Xander, bestowing a kiss, which Xander returned enthusiastically, rubbing the swelling belly of his wife. “Father of slayers.”
“Another girl? Aaww, you didn't tell me.” At his wife's shy nod, Xander kissed her belly. “Cutie. Heya, champ.” He leaned down to kiss the top of Miriam's head. “How was school, pumpkin?”
“Good.” Miriam snuggled in further. “Hungry. Training today?”
“Oz and Graham, I think. And Hebrew with your granddad, of course.” Xander's wife pulled a chair away from the large library table and settled into a desk chair next to him.
“You forgot Scion of Nights and the Host's Friend.” Lorne strode into the room, humming a tune and snuggling a sleepy blond one year old in Dora 'Dulce Suenos' pajamas. “Tara girl, here's your momma. She wanted to see you before nap time. Elsie and Cathryn are already asleep upstairs.” Lorne dropped the girl into Tallyn's lap.
“The Host's Friend. I didn't know that was you.” Dawn rose from Oz's lap, reaching for a book from a nearby bookcase and opening it up.
“Xander, my man...” the Host started.
“Don't give me any more names.” Xander put his finger to his lips. “Ssshhh.”
“I was going to say that one of the ladies of table seventeen offered to heal you.” Xander brightened considerably. Lorne held up a hand.. “'After' she says, and I quote, 'after he can walk into the bar unassisted. He can consider it just punishment for being sloppy. And that he needs to take an enforced vacation.'”
Xander snorted. “You forgot Fate's butt monkey.”
“And what a fine butt it is, darling man of mine. Thanks for saving Christie.” Tallyn took Xander's hand in her own.
“All in a day's work, Tallyn, love.”
“Excuse me. Xander? Ma'am? I need the keys for the Austin cottage. They arrived a few minutes ago.” Graham Miller slid into the room. “Over here?” Graham pointed to a stack of folders.
“The blue one, I think. Robin was working on them before he ran off to teach class. Did we get the certificate of occupancy?” At Oz's nod, Graham handed the folder to Xander, who looked through it. “Yup, here it is. Everything is in order. Key number R-39.” Graham opened a small cupboard by the door, pulling several keys off the hook. “Don't forget that paper there, it's the schedule for Friday. New family orientation is at 1930, after dinner. Movie night for underage minis and siblings starts at 1915. Everyone without a high school diploma has to show up for placement tests Friday and Saturday.” Graham nodded and started to leave. “Wait.” Graham turned back. “The Austin's are the two doctors that have those two brainy junior year boys with a shitload of AP exams. The green stack.” Graham retrieved a folder from the stack. “The boys don't have to test in any subject where they've got a four or five on the AP. Robin put together an extra schedule for them, he's going to place them in the watcher's course for Latin. Also, their parents are to show up at nine sharp for a tour of the infirmary and to start their paperwork for privileges at Cleveland Central hospital. Mags, you got that under control?”
“Yes, Xander. Hawkeye is expecting them.”
“Got it.” Graham stood by the door. “Anything else?” Xander shook his head. “Xander, General Pierce.”
“Dismissed, Major Miller. Don't keep the family waiting.” Margaret made shooing motion with one hand.
“I'll go help.” Dawn stood up and trailed after Graham.
“The Dawn-meister just wants to pick the new doctors' brain. They don't know to run yet. Silly med student. Geek!” Xander called out.
“That's not an insult, Xander!”
*** TTH TTH TTH TTTH ***
Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan and Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H belong to Richard Hooker (author) and others.
Tallyn can be found in the 'Nights' universe, of "Tales from the Barman" originated by Methos, and "Nightmares at
Nights" which I intended as a side story to this story-verse.
"Maggie May" belongs to Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton.